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JOY TO ALL MEN AND PEACE TO MANKIND

friend us on

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Too busy

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true spirit of Fr. Stuart

t happens every year, as predictably as drawing up a shopping list, decorating the tree and planning the Christmas Dinner. Every year we think, “Now THIS is the year when I really will enter into Advent.” And there it stays. Nothing happens. We know in our hearts that Advent can be more than a “pre-Christmas” season, more than those four weeks of getting ready for the Big Day on December 25th. We sit in Church and hear the different readings, the darkness and the promise of hope. We ponder in our hearts: Our lives are full, our families are good, our homes beautiful. We have everything, simply everything we could want. But in the quiet darkness, we are aware of something stirring in our hearts, a longing we can’t name. Something that no trip to the store, no decorations, Christmas dishes or new ornaments can fill. The longing might be risky, even dangerous, so we push it away—quickly—and busy ourselves again. There is so much to do in these weeks. The days are coming, says the LORD, 
when I will fulfill the promise 
I made to the house of Israel and Judah.
Jeremiah 3. The stirring returns. What is this promise for us? What does it mean for us in our comfortable, complicated and messy lives? We want to

Share the reason for the season this year.

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Each of these Christmas Cards, depicting a scene Per Box of from the real Christmas miracle, have been selected 18 Cards from boxes of 18, each box has several different designs.

Shop online from uponthisrock.gi with FREE home delivery until 19th December. Upon this Rock magazine is published monthly by EuropeAxess Media, Gibraltar. Editor: Fr. S. Chipolina: editor@uponthisrock.gi Production Editor: A. Sargent angela@europeaxess.com Cover: Gibraltar’s Secular Franciscan Order Nativity Scene 2012. Upon this Rock magazine is entirely supported by advertising and donations. It is run in liaison with the Catholic Diocese of Gibraltar by EuropeAxess Media Ltd. as a not-for-profit project. For Advertisers: This magazine is hand-delivered to homes, churches, hospitals and many businesses around Gibraltar every month. To discuss your advertising requirements, or promote your church group or charity, call Tel: +350 200 79335 email: angela@europeaxess.com. Editorial is selected by EuropeAxess Media in liaison with the Catholic Diocese of Gibraltar. Neither of these parties is responsible for the

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to enter into the

Christmas? understands... be better people, and our lives are not perfect. We don’t want to delve into our relationships at home because we don’t want to upset the way things are. We are so often impatient with our children, unreasonable with our spouses and we might even admit, disappointed in our lives. We echo the disciples’ confusion and disappointment after the crucifixion: “We had thought it would be different.” But we have everything we could want. What else is there? The Lord GOD will wipe away
the tears from all faces; the reproach of his people he will remove
from the whole earth; for the Lord has spoken. On that day it will be said:
“Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us!
This is the LORD for whom we looked;
let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!”
For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain.
Isaiah 25.

We can start simply and just rest at the edge of our beds in the mornings, open our hands and whisper, “Come, Lord Jesus!” If we let ourselves feel what is in our hearts, we know they are filled with love. We might squirm at that and stammer all of the excuses we know: “Not now. I’m really busy. I’m not a very holy person. I’m going to get to a serious relationship with God as soon as my kids are gone...when I don’t have to care for my parents; when I get the promotion at work; when we move to a new house.” There are dozens of ways we can evade the issue, but still, that longing is there for something more. Advent is a time to recognize both our holy longing and the healing love God has for us, despite the many barriers we put up between ourselves and God. We can start simply and just rest at the edge of our beds in the mornings, open our hands and whisper, “Come, Lord Jesus!” If we let ourselves feel what is in our hearts, we know they are filled with love. We can carry that experience with us as we go through even the busiest of our days. We may not know exactly where to begin or how to

fill this longing in our hearts but it is simple. God waits with infinite love and with arms outstretched to meet us. The words we say don’t matter. We can speak as if God is a friend we have not seen in a long time, but one with whom we can sit in a comfortable silence. It’s just about taking the first step. Even if we are fearful about this next step, we can say to God what is in our hearts. In this Advent season, it’s time to risk, to make the first step, to find our way back home. Loving God, I don’t have the right words. I’m not sure where to begin, but I know you are the hope and promise of the peace to come in my life. Be with me this day. Let me look at my life and my day today and open my heart completely as I begin, “Come, Lord Jesus.” God Bless you, Fr Stuart

What if this Advent, we allow ourselves to imagine a life that is different? What if our hearts were at peace and our lives more satisfying? That longing in the most hidden corners of our hearts is something holy, a Holy Longing, a desire for a deeper relationship with God.

accuracy of the information contained herein, nor do the views and opinions expressed herein necessarily reflect the views and opinions of either party. Advertisers are not endorsed by virtue of advertising in this magazine. EuropeAxess Media Ltd. reserves the right to refuse space to any submissions or advertisements. Efforts have been made to establish copyright owners of images, but if we have used your material, and have not credited you, please contact us to discuss restoration. The magazine is online– uponthisrock.gi. You’ll find exclusive gifts with a Christian message in the WebShop.

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Its Our Big

Upon This Rock Issue 1. Dec 1999

In the autumn of 1999, the late Bishop Charles Caruana asked Fr. Stuart Chipolina to start a diocesan newsletter. Fr. Chipolina approached EuropeAxess Media in order to realise this idea and the first ever Upon This Rock magazine was printed in time for Christmas 1999. Since its launch the magazine has followed its initial brief to ‘cover contentious issues and provide ethical guidance.’ Bishop Ralph took over the patronage in 2010 and now the message is not only in

NEWshop online

The Annual Wedding Anniversary Celebrations Registration Form

Christian books–spiritual food for the hungry soul, t-shirts and polos with artwork

Cut out (or photocopy if you prefer) this form and hand it in to the Catholic Bookshop next to the Cathedral not later than the Saturday 11 January 2014.

Mr. & Mrs._ _________________________________________ Forenames: Husband _ ________________________________ Forenames: Wife_____________________________________

Neé_________________________________________________ Address_ ____________________________________________

e-mail_______________________________________________ Tel. No. Home________________________________________

Tel. No. Work _ ______________________________________

Mobile_ _____________________________________________ Date of Marriage _____________________________________

Church______________________________________________ N.B. If marriage took place outside Gibraltar please produce a copy of the marriage Certificate when handing in this form This form should be handed in at the Cathedral bookshop as soon as possible and not later than Saturday 11th January. You can e-mail above detail/form to: duos@gibtelecom.net

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Anniversary ISSUE print but also broadcast through the internet, with many back issues online, and via social media platforms with over 1000 fans or followers. This year we are pleased to be able to announce a full website, which brings together Fr. Stuart’s current ‘Dear Friends’ teaching, the latest facebook and twitter posts, as well as a web shop. A growing inventory of Gifts, Books, Cards, Calendars and Clothing are available for home shopping. Throughout this issue you will see links to the webshop.

www. u p o n t h i s r o c k

150!

‘Upon this Rock’ - Issue 150

.gi

Gibraltar bus with the message: Live with Jesus Christ in your hearts– its the real thing

I am delighted to have the opportunity to write this brief note to mark the 150th issue of ‘Upon this Rock’. Something of a mile stone! ‘Upon this Rock’ provides an important service of information and formatio n for its readers and its readership includes both those who are actively involved in Church life here in Gibraltar and those who are less so. I know, too, that its readership extends beyond Gibraltar (my aunt in England receives her copy every mon th!) I would like to take this opp ortunity to thank all those who work behind the scenes to ensure that the magazine “goes to print” each month and all those who have contributed articles during the last year. A special “thank you” to the advertisers who have kept faith with us ove r the years and to those who have recently “com e on board”. Their support is crucial to the viab ility of the magazine. And finally I take the opportu nity to wish all our readers a happy and pea ceful Christmas.

+Ralph

Bishop of Gibraltar

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M

ain Street, Gibraltar was lined with well wishers on Thursday 14th November as Governor Sir Adrian Johns and Lady Johns walked to the Piazza.They stopped on numerous occasions to talk to people on the crowded pavements. Schoolchildren from St. Mary’s , Sacred Heart, St. Bernard’s and the Hebrew School joined the Bishop and other religious leaders to say goodbye to the Queen’s representative on the Rock. On being thanked for all they had done during there stay here, His Excellency told the production editor of this publication, “And we will carry on working for Gibraltar!” He and Lady Johns have been tireless in their support of the People in diplomatic circles in these last most trying times, and also in their support of many charitable initiatives on the Rock.

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Links With London

Gibraltar day in London

M

aurice Xiberras and Jim Dobbin MP, were among those who attended Gibraltar Day in London. Elio Cruz, one of the original

members of Los Trovadores, who made popular the hymn to Our Lady of Europe “Virgincita de Europa” was presented with the Mayor’s Gold Award, and a replica of Our Lady of

Europe. Bishop Ralph also met with The Very Reverend Geoffrey Rowell, the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe, whose retirement was announced for the 8th November.

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The Christian community joined Bishop Ralph’s Prayer Vigil. Walking in a candlelit procession from the vicinity of the Frontier to the Cathedral.

A Vigil of Prayer O

n November the 7th his Lordship Bishop Ralph Heskett, announced a Prayer Vigil to take the format of a procession from the Frontier to the Cathedral of St. Mary the Crowned. A Mass would be said as an expression of communion with the priests and people of La Linea, who were also invited. In the event the clergy from across the border were unable to attend the Vigil which had attracted much attention in the Press. However there were many Spanish people

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for the situation

who met on the other side of the border and walked over to join in a candlelit procession. The Rosary and other prayers were said during the walk. Conservative estimates put the numbers at 500 walkers, but many joined at Casemates and the Cathedral nave was already half full when the procession arrived there, many found standing room only. His Lordship repeated the message given at the Shrine of Our Lady of Europe earlier this year, of how for centuries Gibraltar had been

at a physical crossroads where the Mediterranean and Atlantic meet. “It is this physical position in the world that has helped to shape the place and the character of its people. Crossroads are natural meeting points and Gibraltar has become a place of genuine welcome and encounter of peoples from all over the world. Paul, writing to the Church in Rome, reminds us that these inherent Gibraltarian values lie at the heart of the Gospel. Paul offers a no-nonsense vision of Christian

Peace on Earth


Phot

at the frontier.

Karenza Morillo “I think its important for both Communities to come together to pray for peace as a Christian Family, for resolution of the current situation. God makes all things possible.”

Henry Earle “We ask God to restore the emotional stability that we always shared with La Linea. We want to restore the relationship. To share solidarity with Spain and to heal any negative undercurrents.”

Julio Alcantara: “I am here because I believe in the power of prayer. I have hope. They have tried to divide our communities for years, they will not succeed.” living: sincerely preferring good to evil, have a profound respect for each other, keep on praying and finally, make hospitality your special care.” The gathering together emphasised the Bishop was a testimony to “our preference for what is good and right and just. It is a testimony of our respect for one another both within our community and beyond. It is a testimony, too, of our readiness to embrace others. But, perhaps,

most significantly tonight, it is a testimony of our profound belief in the power of prayer.” We asked several walkers why they had taken part and what they hoped the walk would achieve, but due to a problem with the recording equipment, we do not have any other direct quotes. There were those who spoke about human rights and problems for businesses, and others who felt the closeness of God and the angels during the prayer walk from the frontier.

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Messages H

is Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Conner gave series of talks in October, which was both part of the Diocesan Year of Faith and the GIBUNCO Gibraltar International Literary Festival.

The Cardinal gave the third in a series of talks on the Spirituality of Vatican II at the Catholic Community Centre to an appreciative audience who had enjoyed the first and second talks given by Bishop Ralph Heskett on the two preceding Wednesdays, (see overleaf).

Cardinal Cormac’s talks, entitled “The Popes I have known”, related a series of entertaining anecdotes from his exchanges with those Popes, and other leading clergy, giving an insight into the workings of the Vatican, and changes in attitude that have come about in the Church since Vatican II. During his talk at the Catholic Community Centre, he said that he found young people were loosing faith in ‘no faith’. He quoted Malcolm Muggeridge as a voice out of the post modern experience, who said, “How often have I sat in the darkness and cried out to the Holy Spirit?”

The Cardinal spoke of the terrible hunger people have for Faith, and how, as a Church we should offer motherliness, kindliness and be welcoming. He underscored that we are not friendly enough to reach out on the periphery. The Catholic Church in our Community should do more of this, to follow Pope Francis’ lead, to foster a sense of family.

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from the Cardinal His Eminence made reference to the BBC television documentary from Worth Abbey, and when asking what the ultimate response of the participants was, he reported that they learned that they were important to God.

During the talk in the Cathedral the Cardinal again focussed on the changes since Vatican II, for excample how once Ecumenism was focussed on ‘You-comein-ism’ where the Catholic Church prayed for the return of

their separated bretheren, but that now we focussed more on unity in diversity. Celebrating what we have in common, with other Christian denominations, with love and respect, while guarding against intolerance. At

the end of his talk the Cardinal invited questions from the floor and several members of the audience, both local and visitors from abroad, including a Daily Telegraph reporter, took up the invitation.

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The

Spirituality of Vatican II

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s the sun set in the West and the moon was just peeping over the Rock, on Wednesday 16 October, we assembled in the Catholic Community Centre for the second of what Bishop Ralph described light-heartedly as ‘warm-up’ talks. These were in anticipation of what His Lordship saw as the main event, namely Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor’s visit to Gibraltar, as reported in previous pages. His Lordship re-capped on the first talk, which was largely to do with how the Laity had recovered the Scriptures. In this second talk Fr. Ralph discussed Holiness in the Church. Vatican Council II was looking at holiness in cloisters and convents, people did not feel called to live

holy lives beyond saying their prayers and hearing Mass. The Council Fathers took Holy Life out of the confines of the Church to the Laity, as we read in the document ‘Lumen Gentia’. A universal call to Holiness was recovered at the Second Vatican Council.

our daily work being a means of holiness, of sanctifying ourselves and others. But concluding on a lighthearted note, and before taking questions, Fr. Ralph warned,

‘Don’t try it alone!’ and urges us to ask God for help, to participate in the Sacraments. To choose God’s will over our own, to pray, and to love others, as God loves us.

St. Francis De Sales ‘Introduction to the Devout Life’ was the first spiritual thesis for the laity, and written for those who live an outwardly ‘normal’ life. Christians were bidden to bring forth a different form of devotion, a universal holiness according to our state of life. The Council also reminded us of the hidden depths of Baptism, as a union with Christ. His Lordship pointed out that our most important I.D. document was our Baptism Certificate, and that there was no ‘get out’ clause from the call to holiness. He then went on to break down holiness into it’s component parts: patience, compassion, kindness, meekness, lowliness, a love of God and neighbour, a self emptying. More than an imitation of Christ, but allowing the Spirit to work in and through us. In the Old Testament, it meant being ‘set apart’ but a more incarnate meaning sees even

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Loreto Choir

A

twenty strong choir of children from Loreto Convent School took part in the annual Barnardo’s Young Supporters Concert at The Royal Albert Hall on 5th November 2013. The group travelled with five teachers on Monday, ready for rehearsals at the prestigious venue by 10.30 am on Tuesday. Loreto was one of 46 choirs represented (including another local choir – Allegro – and a choir from Jersey–the Progressive School of Music). Charismatic conductor, Dr Douglas Coombes MBE, took time to thank the ‘overseas’

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choirs both in rehearsal and during the performance. Schools had come from all over the UK and we shared a dressing room with a school from Essex and were seated beside the fantastic choir from the Progressive School of Music in Jersey. The rehearsal was, in fact, a music workshop led by Dr Douglas Coombes, who ran the choirs through a series of warm-

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perfoms at theRoyal Albert

up exercises. Backing was provided throughout by Trevor Hughes playing the magnificent organ. The evening programme started with the massed choir singing One Voice, followed by Hey Jude, Let It Be and When I’m Sixty-four. We then moved to the Guinness World Records record attempt for the largest Ocarina Ensemble. Children as young as five years of age led a total of 3,081 players to form the Largest Ocarina Ensemble in the world, smashing the previous record of 831 set in China three years ago. Their seven-minute performance of Ode to a Joyful New Star was achieved after weeks of ocarina practice in schools across the UK, Gibraltar and Jersey, culminating in a short

rehearsal together on the day. An audience of parents, friends and ocarina fans supported the children by learning to play together during the concert. David Liggins, director of Ocarina Workshop, taught everyone to play in just eight minutes and commented: ‘That was the fastest music lesson I’ve ever seen; the sound of over 3,000 people aged five to eighty all playing Beethoven’s Ode to Joy was both amazing and surreal.’ Charities Music for All and The Schools Music Association, plastic experts Dudley Associates, Stanley L. Hunt Printers and Signature Ribbon all joined forces with Ocarina Workshop to make the record attempt successful, equipping every single person in the Royal Albert Hall with music and ocarina to wear around their necks.

MORE ABOUT THE FOUNDER OF

L O R E TO

The massed choir then sang Fireworks – a stunning piece composed especially for the occasion by Dr. Douglas Coombes. The whole event was compered professionally by the well-known presenter Andy Akinwolene, who was very popular with the children. After an impressive performance by the Great Western Chorus, the choir sang I Am A Small Part of the

Hall.

World and the especially written ‘Barnardo’s’. Official adjudication by the Guinness World Records adjudicator brought the house down, and the evening ended with a joyful and youthful rendition of Land of Hope and Glory in celebration of a great British achievement. The evening was a great success with over £40,000 raised for Barnardo’s. Continued overleaf

Gibraltar Diocesan

Crib Competition ENTER YOUR CRIB FOR THIS YEAR’S COMPETITION. ENTRIES INVITED FROM HOMES, PLACES OF WORK, CLUBS, ETC. ENTRY FEE  -  £5.00 JUDGING WILL TAKE PLACE on Friday 13 Dec. (4pm onwards) & Saturday 14 Dec (morning). Entry Forms to be returned by Wednesday 11 Dec. Winners will be notified and Presentation of Prizes will be held at St Theresa’s Church during the Christmas Eve Children’s Mass on Tuesday 24 Dec at 5pm.

Entry Form

Please cut out this entry form and hand it in at St. Theresa’s Church or at the Cathedral Bookshop in Main Street with your Entry Fee. Name/Club/Company:

Address:

‘In the Presence of God’ Mary Ward’s Spirituality KINDLE edition

£4.84

Shop online from uponthisrock.gi

Contact Person: Tel or Mob:

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Loreto Choir Royal Albert Hall. at the

Continued from previous page: ‘As one of the UK’s leading children’s charities Barnardo’s works with over 200,000 vulnerable children, young people and their families every year. We run over 900 projects across the UK and without your support we simply cannot provide this care for the children who most desperately need it. We will always fight for the right of all children to thrive. We believe that children deserve a strong start in life, that they deserve to grow up in a safe and loving home, and that they deserve the education training and skills to help them find employment when they are ready to go out into the world alone. We do this by concentrating our efforts on providing high quality, high impact services. We are committed to focusing our charitable efforts to reach vulnerable children whose needs are not currently seen or heard.’ Peter Brook Acting Chief Executive Barnardo’s The Loreto Choir was made up of Alexandra Bonfante, Lucy Bowling, Henry Bradley, Isabella Cabezutto, Sofia Camporese, Maria Chumillas Onteniente, Benedicta Craig, Eleanor Cruz, Maia Goel, Alicia Linares, Lucia Linares Mompeon, Isabella Macquisten, Lucia Morello, Celine Penalver, Natalia Purkiss Galan, Christina Risso, Timothy Rodinov, Isabella Sheppard-Capurro, Rosie Tunbridge and Charlie Walker. They were accompanied by Mrs Louise Napoli, Mrs Pamela Honeyman, Mrs Caroline Busto, Mrs Bianca Picardo and Mrs Samantha Bowling.

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Prayer Vigil

on the eve of the Feast of the

Immaculate Conception. in English and Spanish

SATURDAY 7 DECEMBER 2013 at the

SHRINE OF OUR LADY OF EUROPE from

8.30pm ~ 10.30pm

“ Feliz Tú Porque Has Creído!” Luke 1:45

Peace on Earth


The BIG picture through Christopher Lloyd’s

What on Earth?

Author Christopher Lloyd gave an introduction to ‘What on Earth’ Publishing–‘connecting together the dots of the past. ‘CURIOSITY is our most precious natural instinct. It is how we learn all the most important life skills from talking to tickling, from cradle to grave. But today knowledge is usually chopped up into separate subjects, usually by adults who are addicted to measuring and recording a student’s progress through constant tests and examinations. All too often, the unforeseen consequences of this modern industrialization of education is to kill off natural curiosity. How can children possibly follow their interests when they are constantly being told what it is they need know? Much better is to challenge them to find out for themselves and become an expert wherever their curiosity leads them, then they can become what nature truly intended, their

Wallbooks

own self-learning system! That’s why I wanted to find a way of presenting a big picture to people, young and old alike, so their minds can roam freely and stand back in awe at the most extraordinary story of all‚ far more incredible than any fantasy or fiction‚ the story of the Universe and our home, the planet Earth, over 13.7 billion years!’ Christopher Lloyd presented several of his Wallbooks at the Gibraltar Literary Festival. The History of Science and Engineering Wallbook presentation (shown above) was fully booked, and the audience, young and old, were well entertained by his larger than life personality, which seemed to have a touch of ‘Dr. Who’ charisma. His presentation was as well thought out as the Wallbooks themselves, and we really hope that he will make a return visit next year. The books are also available in a more manageable size to take home and include titles on Sport, Natural History, and Life on the Planet Earth from the Big Bang

The author demonstrates a point from a big picture wallbook. The books are avaialable on the Upon This Rock website

uponthisrock.gi

to the Present day, for £15.00 each. Thanks to Maya and Lucy Witkowska Boucher and their parents for demonstrating how well the giant infographic works, and for reviewing a smaller version of the History of Sport which was given an “A star”.

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Andrew Rodriguez

God’s

love

EMMAUS YOUTH

RETREAT UK

A

around fifty Gibraltarian students currently studying in the UK, most of which belong to the Catholic Youth Ministry ‘Emmaus’, attended a retreat during the weekend of 18-20 October. The retreat was held at the St. Albans Pastoral Centre, situated on the outskirts of London. The students joined up with his Lordship the Bishop of Gibraltar Ralph Heskett and Monsignor Charles Azzopardi, along with other

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youth leaders and guests in what has become an annual event in the youth calendar. With the weekend preceding the Gibraltar Day in London, it is fitting that the retreat concludes with the celebration of mass at Our Lady of Dolours, giving students and fellow Gibraltarians alike an opportunity to celebrate mass together. The retreat which runs from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon was this year titled Life in the Spirit. As a means

of not distracting students away from their studies, talks and testimonies were entrusted upon the remaining leaders along with invited guests. The excitement and happiness as students began to arrive throughout the course of the afternoon was evident, but considering that this excitement and happiness is all poured out in the name of our Lord Jesus, it transforms into something much more special. Friday evening saw the

delivery of a talk and a testimony, later accompanied by a time of prayer and adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The talk and testimony was on the topic of God’s love, encouraging all to let go of

Peace on Earth


all the burdens and negativity in our lives and to confide in, and allow God to take charge. It showed not only to students coming for the first time but to all, that we should not fear God, but rather embrace him and his love for us. Saturday was an early start, with Morning Prayer, mass, talks and testimonies on the agenda. Although early starts for students and indeed all non-students for that matter, is always a bit of a difficulty, many would agree that if God suffered for each and every one of us, an early start is nothing. As on Friday evening, a testimony was accompanied by a talk, although for the purpose of

further discussions and gathering individual thoughts and opinions, students were divided up into workshops. Workshops provide an ideal opportunity to indulge in conversion surrounding the talk topic, allowing for personal experiences and views to be shared. Saturday night ended with a powerful and Spirit inspired adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament. With soothing musical prayers invoking the Holy Spirit, with candle lights surrounding the Blessed Sacrament, powerful songs of praise and worship, the night was perfect. The experience was such that nobody wanted the night to end. It truly is beautiful to see how God works through each and everyone one of us. Sunday began with Morning Prayer and a final testimony and talk, after which Mass at Our Lady of

Dolours on Fulham Road would concluded the retreat. Having Mass at Our Lady of Dolours was a fitting way end the retreat, as it allowed us to bring everything that had been learnt over the weekend to God and for him help us and strengthen us along on our journeys. Aside from a beautiful and breath-taking mass service, the privilege of being able to celebrate mass with fellow Gibraltarians outside of Gibraltar is something to thank God for. I personally have attended

several UK retreats, all of which have been different and special in their own way. What shocked me the most about this retreat was how the students who had attended for the first time, embraced God and did not feel intimidated or scared to say “Lord I am here, do your will in me�. From this retreat I have learned many things, made true friends but more importantly have fallen more in Love with Christ. I can’t wait for the next one. Andrew Rodriguez

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Anne Mesilio

Christmas and

D

id you, like me, often heard the order “respect your elders” when growing up? As a child I was taught to respect my elders, without really understanding what the word meant, but it was clear that parents, teachers and all those in positions of authority were owed respect. “You shall stand up before the grey head and honour the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God” Leviticus 19:32. Respect is a biblical principle that is becoming increasingly invisible today. Respect is the ability to see and celebrate the value in ourselves and others. It is an attitude of kindness towards people we hold in considerable esteem. Now, respect also encompasses our fragile earth and its sorely misused environment, but in

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this article I am concerned with respect towards our young and elderly. Christmas is a time of ‘big heart’ giving that usually has us putting others first. In this beating Christmas heart let us remember the birth of Jesus, one of the often forgotten yet most significant events in all our history. It was a pouring of the healing medicine of love into a world greatly lacking in this. It was to transform the hearts and minds of millions for over two thousand years to today. He was born in a humble stable, into a poor family and simple shepherds were the first witnesses to the event, manifesting heaven’s glory in this poverty. Perhaps this was the first showing of respect, a showing of deferential regard for the unselfish coming of

Peace on Earth


two senior citizens this Babe who would suffer and die to redeem our sins. Awesome! Actually marking the end of the Christmas season is the feast known as the Presentation in the Temple and also the Purification of Our Lady. The two-fold Jewish rights which the Holy Family observed were the legal purification of the mother after birth and the offering of the first born male child to the Lord. Picture this, Joseph and Mary are young, they have their whole lives ahead of them and they are greeted in the Temple firstly by Simeon, an old man, grey in years hastily followed by Anna, a Prophetess and aged widow with an ancient wrinkled face and old tired eyes yet sharp and knowing, who has spent most of her life praying and worshipping in the Temple. Both feel their days are numbered and that they have no tomorrow. These two older people have lived all their lives waiting for God’s promise to be fulfilled, that of the redemption of his people, and that one single vision has been at the centre of their lives. Once they were both strong and joyful but are now in the evening of their lives and surely it was God’s wisdom that these

two, hoary with age and experience would be chosen to reveal God’s plan. Simeon cries “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word for my eyes have seen your salvation... a light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel” Luke 2, 28:32. Anna too gave thanks and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Israel. As our elders grow towards their waning years, the story of Anna and Simeon illustrates the contribution they have made to family life and society. They are valued for their wisdom, which God recognised with respect, as he chose them to deliver the message of redemption. Just imagine how it would look to Joseph and Mary if say, a twenty year old had glibly told them they had waited all their lives, all twenty years! Developing the capacity for respect is a life long challenge and life expectancy today is unprecedented in those who survive beyond the age of sixty five. This venerable age group are often the butt of jokes; three seniors were out for a stroll, one of them remarks “it’s windy”, one replies “no,

way, it’s Thursday”, the last one says “me too, lets have a cuppa”! There is smile value here of course, but one thing which annoys me is the excuse by younger people for either misplacing or not remembering something “I was having a senior moment”, a jocular and non medical term for mental lapses which can happen to everyone. Christmas is an opportunity for teaching the young to value their aged grandparents, aunts and uncles, make an extra effort to include them in family occasions, visits, present giving etc. If aged family live far away encourage children to write a thank you note for presents received. It is time to show them how to treat others as they would like to be treated, become a ‘Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby’, from the moral fable of the Water Babies, written by the Rev Charles Kingsley in 1862-3. The young are full of energy and ideals, just like their elders once were when they ran and danced, felt the wind in their hair, the sun on their faces, laughed and cried. Young people have the right to be respected too. Knowing that they have the right to be heard, listened to, in decisions which affect

them boosting their self esteem and sense of security. This helps them develop self confidence in acquiring skills, and by their mentors being in empathy with their needs and comforting their fears, they are encouraged to believe in themselves. Parental elbow grease is required to give children the first start in a life of learning.

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6.

The stars that lit the heavens for the shepherds still shine; you only have to look and be guided to seek the light of Bethlehem. For young and old this year, my wish for you; may the blessings of Peace, the beauty of Hope, the spirit of Love and the comfort of Faith be yours this Christmas.

Goodwill to all Men

21


Waiting for Gabriel Learning to Pray through Infertility

Timothy P. O’Malley, Ph.D. of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy is the Editor of ‘Oblation: Catechesis, Liturgy, and the New Evangelization’ and ‘Church Life: A Journal for the New Evangelization’

“Do you have children?”

For most thirty-somethings, this seemingly harmless question is the opening volley of a round of socially acceptable chit-chat.

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Colleagues around the office fill silences with a discussion of recent pregnancies, first communions, and the athletic milestones of their children’s lives. At the salon or barber shop, the shearing of hair is accompanied by regaling the barber with mundane details of one’s progeny “Sally is six, just lost her first tooth, and has begun to wonder about the origins of daisies.” College reunions become an occasion not simply to reminisce about chemistry class or the bizarre rituals of freshman orientation but to meet the miniature version(s) of the guy down the hall, who used to set up a slip-and-slide on South Quad when the temperature climbed above fifty degrees. For my wife and I, the question about the quantity and ages of our brood is never an escape valve from awkward social interactions. It is the

primary reactant that produces uncomfortable conversations with strangers and confidants alike. “No children,” we say, our voices hopefully revealing our discomfort with the question. Responses generally range from, “Oh, I thought you had a couple.” to “What are you waiting for?”, and an occasional “Oh.” We smile. We laugh a bit. We say, “Maybe, one day.” But, how can you tell a complete stranger, a trusted teacher, a friendly cleric, a college classmate “We’re infertile.” The Diagnosis When I was younger, I always wondered why the Scriptures were so concerned with the childless wife. In the Old Testament, Hannah gives birth to Samuel after years of infertility, and sings “The barren wife bears seven sons, while the mother of many languishes” (1 Sam. 2:5).

As a theologian, I’m well aware of the function of infertility in the Scriptures. When the aged Sarah, the elderly Hannah, and the mature Elizabeth gives birth to a child, the reader is invited to remember that God is the major actor in salvation, not human beings. The surprising reversal of infertility in the Bible is thus a sign of new life coming from death; an action made possible by God, who is the creator and sustainer of human life. But that part of me, who has spent the last six years, praying for a child each day, cannot help but read Hannah’s song as a cry of relief. After years of barrenness, loneliness, and tears, finally a child! Of course, when my wife and I were first married, we did not even imagine the possibility of joining the ranks of Abraham and Sarah, of Elkanah and Hannah, of Elizabeth and Zechariah. We

Peace on Earth


happened upon each other before our senior year at Notre Dame and fell madly in love. At the time, I was preparing to enter Moreau Seminary. After meeting Kara while serving as a mentorin-faith at Notre Dame Vision (a summer retreat program for high school students on the theme of vocation), I suddenly became aware that I was to spend the rest of my life with this woman. Our first date was a frenzied session of discernment, asking whether or not I should give up my previously planned life for a girl I met five weeks earlier. By the end of the date, I came to the conclusion that not only should I date Kara, but before me sat the woman who I would marry. Happily, she came to a similar conclusion (mutatis mutandi), albeit just a bit later than me. I chose not to enter the seminary, and a little over a year removed from one of the most angst-ridden first dates of all time, we were engaged to be married. Like so many couples before us our nuptials took place at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, and the priest prayed over us “Bless them with children and help them to be good parents. May they live to see their children’s children.” And at our wedding, jokes surfaced about when the first child would be born to this Catholic couple. We, of course, hoped not long. In our first year of marriage in Boston, where Kara was a youth minister and I was a doctoral student, we decided it was time

to begin a family. Looking back, we seemed to perceive that having a child would simply happen, once we desired it (of course, we knew the physiology of how such desire would need to be expressed). So, the desiring commenced. Month one passed. Month two passed. Month three passed. Six months later, our home became the anti-Nazareth, as we awaited an annunciation that never came. The hope-filled decision to conceive a child became a bitter task of disheartened waiting. After a year, we began to see a barrage of infertility specialists, who based upon test results, concluded that we should be able to have a child. No low sperm counts. No problem with reproductive systems. All in working order. The verdict: inexplicable infertility. Unexplained infertility is a surprisingly miserable diagnosis. Something about my psyche was prepared for a scientific explanation. One in which the very fine doctors with advanced degrees from Ivy League institutions acknowledged that unless an act of God intervened, no human life would emerge from intercourse between Kara and I. Indeed, a fair number of tears would have been shed on both of our parts. But with the diagnosis of unexplained infertility, conception is scientifically possible. With every slight change in Kara’s monthly cycle, a glimmer of hope rises in our hearts, only to be dashed with the arrival of menstruation. Kind-hearted family, friends, and colleagues, who learn about our infertility, share stories about a mother or sister, who finally became pregnant. They recommend “doctors” who have a proven track record of

curing infertility. But unfortunate for us, we have no way of knowing if we will one day join the ranks of the middle-aged firsttime parent. To continue reading, go to the magazine webiste: www.uponthisrock.gi. No internet access? Text ‘Gabriel’ to 54000776 to arrange delivery of a printout. This editorial selected by Dr Monique Risso MB ChB MRCGP Tel: +350 200 49999

TRAFALGAR PHARMACY 48-50 Main Street, Gibraltar. t: 200 71710

RhnkLZm^eebm^<Z[e^MOIkhob]^k Ngbm*+;PZm^k`Zk]^gl !$,.)"+)).*.21 `b[lZm9`b[kZemZk'`b

Goodwill to all Men

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Dec 2013 150  

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